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GIF's Making a Comeback

Animation and motion graphics have always been my true passion in the world of graphic design and development. I guess it's just the kid in me that likes to see and interact with things that move and react. There is something very engaging about motion graphics and pages that utilize it in the correct fashion can greatly reduce their bounce rate and if executed well can increase viewer retention.

When I was at ARRP the two most popular and most viewed online publications were multi media driven. One a video of a 70 year old burlesque dancer (not kidding) and the other an interactive calculator I built to allow the reader to balance the federal budget. It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words...well a video or interactive presentation is worth a billion. But I digress this is a post about the comeback of animated GIFs. You remember those cute little animations telling you a page is under construction or maybe a dancing cat or click here button, well with the death of Flash those adorable little timeline based images are popping up everywhere again.

My personal opinion is we took a step backward by killing Flash and Action Script. The rise of GIF's is a sign I wasn't wrong. The GIF graphics file format was invented by Steve Wilhite at CompuServe in 1987. That was almost 30 years ago! What other file format has that kind of staying power, I think you would be hard pressed to find one. JavaScript, you say?, well it was created in May 1995 by Brendan Eich, then working at Netscape. I guess GIF's are the cockroach of the file format world, but we love them anyway. I am sure they will have their place in the online and mobile world for some time to come.

In conclusion I must say what prompted me to pen this short narrative was a recent assignment I had to spice up a Hero section for a trade show landing page I built on our company website. Our trademark imagery for the show was a heart with our Logo en-crested in it. I opened the vector file in Photoshop used the 3-D feature to extrude and rotate the heart in 20 degree increments saving a layer with each step. With the timeline in Photoshop I set up a 26 frame animation and "saved for web" (GIF) with a transparent background. The file imported seamlessly into our CMS repository and functioned perfectly when placed on the page. Chalk this up to "Teaching and Old Dog an Old Trick"

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